Stellar day at Edgefield, where Dave and I go to play something golf-like. We got six scratches, five cups, four beers, three balls and two shrikes. Actually, I’m kidding about the shrikes. I got carried away, there. There are a ton of birds at Edgefield, which disdains pesticides, but no shrikes.

We did get three balls. That’s what you get when you’re tromping in the blackberry patches that hunker around the golf course. People will go only so far in to retrieve their golf balls, but if you’re specifically trying to retrieve berries, you’ll get in there a ways, and there they are. Our master plan is to pick enough berries for pie and then play twelve holes of golf and drink beer. It takes a lot of the sting out of blackberry picking.

We got there an hour before our tee time but the pickings were sparse. For some reason the thickets were bearing old, dead berries and green berries. We were a week behind and ahead, both. It’s all about the timing. What we did get seemed to be in the pre-fruit fly maggot stage, so that was good. Dave got out of sight early, looking for the mother lode, and I gave up a half-hour in, but I couldn’t find him. This is worrisome. On the east coast, blackberries are something you buy at a nursery and plant and nurture and cross your fingers over. Here in the Pacific Northwest, blackberries go thundering over the landscape and you periodically need to whack away at them to see if your house is under there. Dave’s tall and has good stomping ability. That means he can get into the thicket pretty far and can stand and pick in the same location for several minutes. Plenty enough time to be ingested by the blackberries. If you don’t make a point of backing out every twenty seconds or so, you could be in there for good. Then someone needs to heave sandwiches toward the moaning sound until winter, when it might be possible to mount a rescue. But it’s a bother.

He did turn up eventually, and together we had only enough berries for maybe one pie. Boo! I hate making pie, but this was disappointing. However, the beauty of blackberries is that the season is over before huckleberry season starts. Which means you can always stop picking because the possibility exists you’ll still get a lot of huckleberries later. By the time you find out it’s a shitty year for huckleberries too, it’s too late to go back for blackberries, and you’re home free. Meanwhile, we got ready for part two: golf. When you play a round after picking blackberries, you can confidently call yourself a scratch golfer.

I don’t know a whole lot about golf. No one is eager to allow me on a real course. But if you go to the Edgefield Par Three golf course, you don’t need a baggie of niplicks and wedgies, or whatever it is real golfers carry. You just need a putter and a pitching wedge. You also need to stuff at least five balls in your pocket, or enough to make people afraid to look at your shorts. The blackberries are in pouncing distance of every hole. Any ball that meanders out of the fairway needs to be tended to right away before it gets swallowed up.

They’re fancying up the place a little. There was a little plastic box on a pole at crotch height halfway through. Dave said it was a ball-washer. I believe there is a time for hygiene, and a time to just let it go, but that’s just me.

My method of golfing is closely aligned with pinball. Most of the time, I’m on the green in two. Briefly. Two, three, four, five, and six, and then begins a series of putts that eventually homes in on the the hole like a pendulum winding down and culminates in a nice fat score. But on this day I played par golf. Over two holes. Three and eleven.

And then it was beer time. Beer casts a favorable light on all endeavors. I examined my berry bucket. Only enough for one pie. Yay!